Canadian amateur sport to receive $72 million in pandemic relief money

Canada's amateur sports system will receive $72 million from a federal government emergency support fund to alleviate the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault recently announced $500 million in pandemic relief to cultural, heritage and sport organizations.

Those details were announced Friday.

The money earmarked for sports will go to national and provincial organizations, Canadian sport institutes and Indigenous sport groups.

Athletes whose Sport Canada assistance cheques are impacted by both the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and the pandemic will also receive financial assistance.

"We will try to save all our organizations and to help everybody," Guilbeault told The Canadian Press on Friday. "We may not be able to, but we will try.

"What we're hoping to achieve out of this is once we've gone through that first phase of the crisis, our sports ecosystem is still intact."

Sport organizations that already receive federal funding are eligible for emergency relief.

The Canadian Football League, soccer's Canadian Premier League and the Canadian Elite Basketball League have asked for millions in pandemic relief money, but professional leagues were not eligible for the funding announced Friday.

"What's important to say is all the money being announced today is for amateur sports and our Olympic athletes, so there's nothing for professional sports," Guilbeault said.

"It's too early to be able to say whether we will be in a position to support these."

National sport organizations and institutes will receive $34.5 million, provinces and territories $32.5 million and the Athlete Assistance Program $5 million.

Use of remaining funds will be assessed based on need.

"National Sport Organizations are facing significant obstacles, including limited cash flows, layoffs and uncertainty," the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Commitee said Friday in a joint statement.

"Along with this funding package, the COC and CPC will fully support the NSOs and broader sport community.

"We remain committed to playing our role in COVID-19 relief and recovery in concert with our partners at the Government of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 8, 2020

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